Sunday, June 29, 2008

More Tote Bags and a Caterpillar Update

The other day I overheard this conversation between my 3 year old and some Barbies:

"I'm going to the ball! I'm going to be so pretty! First, I need a pretty dress. Then, I need a tote bag."

Apparently, I have passed on the tote-bag gene.

Here's a bag that I made for a preschool teacher. I had enough fabric left over so I made an one for the girls too. Again, I used the Summery Dish Towel Tote Bag tutorial. Except I ran out of dish towels, and used actual fabric, cut the same size as the dish towels. The fabric is from Joann's, a nice heavy weight cotton. I used the same fabric for both the outside and the lining.

Here's another summery bag. This one is made from 2 Anthropologie dish towels that I got on sale. One thing you find when looking for dish towels, is that sometimes there is a design only on one end. On this one, the pink flowers were only on one side. On a plain towel, that might be a problem, but this towel has the writing all over, so the "plain" side isn't really plain.

Another situation you run into with the towels is that if there is a placed design on the end (as opposed to the design being an all-over print) is that, when you fold it to sew the side seams, the design is going to be facing upside down when you make it into a bag. That was the case with the above bag: the pink flowers were upside down. So I had to cut the towel in half and sew it back together with the design facing the other way so it would be right side up on my bag. No big deal, it's just another little step. The seam is at the center bottom of the bag and doesn't show.
I love the lining and the bag is reversible. With floppy bags like this, it's important to love the lining because you're going to see it. That's the way I feel about quilt backings too. You're going to see them, so do something nice or fun or interesting and don't just use crappy old fabric thinking it won't show. (Maybe the backing of art quilts hanging on a wall won't show, but for sure the bed quilt backing will show at some point--at least it does on my unmade, crumpled beds).
Here's the reversible side, it's as fabulous as the other side:

And now for a caterpillar update!

Here's a photo of the caterpillar condo, with everyone tucked nicely in their chrysalis. (5 of the 6 made chrysalises and one, sadly, didn't make it.)

You can see that 3 attached themselves to the roof of the condo and one is on a stick right below. The other one was near the bottom. You can kind of see how the chrysalises were spikey, just like the caterpillars.
They hatched 11 days later. Two hatched and three did not, (which was sad, but apparently the kids are well adjusted to the circle of life, even if Mom is not).
They hatched during the night and it was exciting to come down in the morning and see the butterflies clinging to the chrysalises, being totally still. They were still for almost a whole day befor they started moving around.
The butterfly is at the bottom of the house, just to the left of the orange slice:
I was concerned about opening the top to let out the butterflies when there was still a chrysalis attached to the ceiling, but we did it very carefully.

I was hoping to have this quilt done, and to have a glorious butterfly release, complete with sunshine, Martha-Stewart-worthy picnic, and photo shoot with beautiful butterflies landing on shoulders and kids smiling in wonderment.
It was nothing of the sort, as the day the butterflies chose was filled with vacation bible school, swimming lessons, and a quickie dinner fit in before 2 baseball games. Nevertheless, it was memorable, in its own ramshackle way. The first butterfly flew off quickly and crazily, zigzagging with his first freedom high into the sky and away.
The second one flew right up to the tree next to us, and stayed basking in the sun for a long time. You can see him in the picture below, about 2 feet above the fork on the left side.
I was desperately trying to get a group photo, but the kids were getting restless, and here is all I could get. But it does have all 4 of them in the photo, at least.

See them all? Here are arrows, the top arrows pointing out the butterfly, and the other arrows for the kids.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Two Year Anniversary

I can't believe it......this month is the two year anniversary of Sophie's Toes Sock Yarn! I am having a big celebration over on etsy!

Here's what is happening, starting tonight.....

Free shipping to the U.S. or Canada if you buy 3 or more skeins. Stock up for those summer sock knitalongs, vacation knitting, or get a jump on some holiday knitting! International buyers--get $5 off your shipping cost.

I am giving away 3 free skeins! The 2nd skein I sell on Tuesday evening, after I list the new yarn, will be free to the lucky person with the quick mouse clicks. The 11th skein (it's my favorite number) will also be free, and so will the 22nd skein. If you are a lucky winner, I will notify you as quickly as possible and send you a revised paypal invoice. If you are a quick payer (thank you!) and have already paid for the free skein, I will refund your money via paypal. I wish I could make confetti drop down on you, but you will just have to imagine that!!

And I am sending a little thank-you-suprise in each package!

So, I hear you asking, what colors will be available on Tuesday night? I dyed the TOP TEN FAVORITES, as voted by my mailing list subscribers. The top ten favorites are: American Patchwork, Bouquet, Christmas Lights, Crushed Velvet, Favorite Jeans, Iris Garden, Good Earth, Secret Garden, Springtime in Paris, and Tapestry.

And, what I'm even more excited about, is that I have also dyed ten BRAND NEW gorgeous colors.

There is going to be a huge amount of yarn listed tonight. Some of them are sure to sell out, so get there early and get a good seat down front!! The excitement starts at 7pm Central time, Tuesday, June 10th in my etsy shop.

Thank you for all your support the past two years. I hope you have fun shopping!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Breaking News: Science and Nature Department

I was backing out of the driveway last week, taking the kids to the library. I noticed something black on the side of the house. I was pretty far away, but it looked like a very big caterpillar (you know we are into caterpillars), but it was also possible that it was just a leaf.

I stopped the car and told the kids I needed to investigate. Upon closer inspection, it was a caterpillar! It was a big, black, spikey caterpillar with brown spots. We abandoned our library plans and went inside to get a jar. While I was poking holes in the peanut butter jar lid with a hammer and nail, I noticed another one crawling across the garage floor. The exact same kind! What are the odds? We haven't seen a caterpillar in ages--let alone two of the same kind, at the same time. So we put them both in the jar.

We went outside to get some leaves and sticks for their home. And what do you know, but here comes another one crawling across the driveway.

Yes, at this point, I was feeling a little freaked out. Invasion of the caterpillars?! Three freaky, black, spikey, caterpillars.

So we went in to identify them on the internet. It took about 30 seconds to identify our caterpillars and see what kind of butterflies they would turn into. (I breathed a sigh of relief that they would be a beautiful butterfly and not a scary kind of moth!) We also learned that they stay together on their host tree (Elm) until they are full grown, and then go traveling off at the same time to find a place to make their chrysalis.

No wonder they were all there at the same time! And our guys were all brothers and sisters! How exciting!

(Sophie is not crying. She is "taking pictures for the blog". My girl.)

So, we went back out to find the Elm tree, which was right next to our driveway--makes sense--and, there came another little guy crawling across the driveway! So, then we had four. And I told the kids to keep and eye out on the driveway for more, and that's when I found another one on the house. Five.

I was concerned about the amount of room, and the amount of air, to be honest, in the peanut butter jar, so we put them in the garage and continued on our mission to the library, and also to find a suitable house to keep them comfortable.

We stocked up on butterfly literature at the library and found a fabulous caterpillar condo at the toy store. When we got back, we transferred our friends from the crowded peanut butter jar into the condo, and added a nice amount of sticks and elm leaves.

I told the kids to make one last scan of the area for any more. All of a sudden, Sophie started yelling at the top of her lungs. She was so excited that, at first, I couldn't understand what she was saying. She was pointing at the side of the porch, screaming "I see another friend! I see another friend!!!!" She was over the moon with joy.

Final count: six. Group photo.

I made a diagram of where they were all found, for posterity. I mean, what are the odds that we happened to be on the driveway at the exact moment that the little guys made their move? I went out several times later that day and the next, and I never found any more. I feel incredibly lucky that we were in the right place at the right time!

I put their house on the dining room table. I will admit, it was a little creepy to watch them while we were eating dinner, all crawly and spikey and everything. They were extremely active that afternoon and evening. Then, the next morning when we came downstairs, they were all in their j position, hanging completely still, upside down from sticks or from the ceiling of the house.
The next day was pretty exciting, as we waited for chrysalis making. I was gone in the evening, when they made their chrysalises, but the kids got to see it. Now they are all tucked in, and our waiting begins.

In crafting news, Emily's Totebag Factory is running full tilt.

Many totebags were gifted in the month of May. Teachers were hugged. Tears were shed.

These (above) were made from my dishtowel totebag tutorial and my stash of Crate and Barrel dishtowels that I bought last year. Love the cherries. Wish they had that same vintage-looking dish towel this year.

The one below was from two black and grey towels Crate and Barrel has this year.

This is the same bag above and below. It's reversible.

Then I ran out of towels and had to make one from fabric (imagine!) This is upholstery weight fabric (Veronique by Alexander Henry) lined with black cotton duck, and the straps are black twill tape webbing.

I put the tutorial in my sidebar. I am finishing up a couple more for myself and the kids, so brace yourself for more totebag deliciousness later this week.

I'll be back tomorrow with a shop update announcement. This month is my two year yarn-dyeing anniversary, and I have some special goings-on over on etsy!